So, finally the gloves are coming off as President Lazarus Chakwera held no punches on Monday, telling all and sundry that the days of relying on politicians are over. In fact, the First Citizen did not just stop there; he went on to let the public know that he had over 500 messages on his WhatsApp from people (probably friends, acquaintances, party) seeking all kinds of favours from his end.
I would say no surprises there! It is an open secret that once leaders are elected into the office of President, then chancers, party loyalists, family members and others tend to linger along, seeking gratification from the higher office. In fact, it is just that Chakwera has been open and bold enough to say it on a podium; I bet the previous leaders must have been suffering in silence during their tenure.
But then, I would squarely put the blame on the leaders themselves because they are the ones who start it all through the ‘scratch my back and I’ll scratch your’ kind of unconventional agreements they strike with some of these people. Many a time have politicians, had dalliances with people from various backgrounds such as the business sector or the common man, and in their desperate bid to woe votes or land the top-most-job in the country, have ended up promising the moon and the stars to such people. Stories are even told about politicians obtaining loans or ‘support’ from business people to support their campaign. It is usually such kind of people who would end up hounding or pestering the politicians once they make it into office. I am not saying that is the case with the President, as regards the over 500 WhatsApp text messages on his phone, but you never can tell.
Otherwise, it is indeed high time we dealt away with political appeasement if this country of ours were to make progress. No jobs or favours should be restricted to one’s cronies or party loyalists. The spirit of hand -outs must be rooted out and replaced with hard work. As President Chakwera rightly observed, each family and every individual must be asking themselves exactly how they can contribute towards developing the country and attaining the aspirations of Malawi 2063, whose 10- year medium term plan the Malawi leader was unveiling.
Of course, they do say no man is an island and we all need friends, so Mr. President, scroll through that list of text messages carefully and get rid of only time wasters. Who knows, you might just chance upon patriotic Malawians dedicated to the cause of uplifting this country. Do not dismiss them all entirely; those who are worthy, by virtue of qualifying for certain tasks and responsibilities within the public system, by all means should be accorded the opportunity on merit. Let them go through the proper channels and equal rights should be the song.
Everything else aside, Malawians hired President Chakwera and his Tonse Alliance to take charge of government affairs and it is the expectations of the public that they discharge this job to the best of their ability. There should, therefore, not be any distractions or political machinations trying to get in the way through solicitation of favours or deals. It is my considered view that in no way did President Chakwera’s speech on Monday signal or mean neglect of duty (if it were a kingdom, we would have said abdication); he was simply giving caution to all those in the habit of inundating politicians such as himself with personal problems and trivia. Get the message: No more! Every man for himself, from now onwards.
Let us love our country
On Monday morning, people in most parts of the country were left stranded as minibus operators staged a stay away, largely during the morning hours, with a view of twisting government’s arm on the recently introduced tollgates.
It is sad that innocent commuters are always used as leverage, disrupting their planned schedules and, in some instances, bringing them sorrow. Imagine how somebody would feel, having been deprived of public transport (to get to a hospital) as was the case on this day and they end up losing their life or that of a patient they intended to visit at the hospital.
There must always be some level of semblance whenever differences arise and I wish to commend both government and the other stakeholders for moving in quickly to quell the situation. That is the way to go; let us love our country.
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).